Last week, it was announced the company known as Coach Inc, would be re-named Tapestry, Inc. There is a distinction to be made – Coach (as its often referred to by its many fans) is the namesake fashion and accessories brand line and Coach Inc is the namesake “holding” company that actually owns Coach along with other brands including Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman. Confusing? Probably why the name change.
Tapestry’s CEO, Victor Luis stated the name change was intended to signal the company was a multi-brand entity that owned many unique brands and that no sole brand should be singled out. It is a move that mimics many of the European fashion conglomerates such as LVMH, Kering and Richmont, which are all holding companies that own multiple luxury brands. Tapestry’s bigger business goal is to perhaps, go directly after these companies with a similar business structure.
If so, the name change is strategically aligned and is reminiscent of many corporate brands especially in CPG. For example, The Clorox Company, Campbell’s, Nestle, Smucker, and PepsiCo have been successful in expanding their portfolios beyond the titular brands. However, do their corporate names, tied to one brand, limit perceptions of the business’s financial communities? Perhaps. Do they prevent the corporate brands from playing an active role engaging with their audiences and building brand value? Absolutely. Companies like Unilever and P&G build value for the corporation and their individual brands because they are able to actively market themselves. Instead of solely resting on the laurels of say, one hero brand, they have a distinct name that champions each line of business equally lets them do that. However, while strategically sound, Tapestry could’ve upped the ante on the creative side. A few reasons on how the name could’ve done better:
1. When corporations decide to rename, they often get caught up in the moment, pursuing names that convey the process of consolidating distinct silo’ed brands into one cohesive business. So we see lots of variations on themes of integration and harmony—you can expect cliché words like Tapestry, Mosaic, Kaleidoscope to be on every corporate rename list. I caution clients against focusing on a short-term situation and instead to focus on names rooted in long-term values that can last the life of the business.
2. I agree with much of commentary surrounding the launch of the name—it carries too much baggage for the fashion category. It has very dated 70’s connotations with the textile. It’s much harder to see the metaphoric themes about integration and harmony in the name because it is speaking to a fashion audience. If they were a food or automotive business, the dusty 70’s connotations wouldn’t be as apparent and wouldn’t matter as much.
3. I imagine part of the strategy in changing the name was a response to the acquisition of several high-end luxury brands into to portfolio—the association with a “masstige” brand like Coach could possibly drag down perceptions of luxury for the overall portfolio. I don’t think the name Tapestry improves on perceptions of quality and luxury. The name has very homespun folksy connotations and feels too accessible.
Overall, although the name may be questionable, the move reflects the growing trend of treating corporate brands with the same care of consumer brands. While historically, the only population that would be cognizant of corporate names were say, those observing the stock market or the finance department, now more than ever, consumers are demanding more from the brands they buy (and buy into). People are much more discerning in looking at a company’s practices, purpose and values and won’t shy away at questioning a brand’s motives; a name change is one smart way for a brand to put a stake into the ground on what those motives are.
My advice on once a name is determined: Don’t flinch. Don’t apologize. Ensure leadership will publicly stand by it. The upside of a new name far outweighs the negative feedback from critics. And besides, criticism always fades.
Photo courtesy of Tapestry, Inc